Maryland, DC Attorneys General Announce Lawsuit Against Trump

Alex Brandon  AP

The attorney generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia have served Trump with a new lawsuit accusing the president of violating the U.S. Constitution.

The administration's lawyers also argue the clause was never meant to bar presidents from having private business interests.

Since taking power in January, Trump has turned day to day control over his real estate empire and other assets to his adult sons, but not sold them off as many in America said he should to avoid conflicts of interest. Just days after his inauguration in January, the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of NY.

On Monday's broadcast of CNN's "Situation Room", CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin stated the lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia and Maryland against President Trump "is a political attempt to interfere and damage the presidency".

The domestic Emoluments Clause says presidents will receive payment for their time in the White House and may not receive payment or "any other emolument" from a USA state or a foreign government during this period.

The system of checks and balances has failed to address the president's conflicts of interest, according to Raccine, including Congress, which he said has given the president "a total pass on his business entanglements".

On Monday, Racine said he and Frosh chose to act because the Republican-controlled Congress has "wholly failed to fulfill its responsibility of serving as a check and balance on the president".

In New York, Trump Tower leases space to the Chinese government-controlled bank ICBC, and Trump World Tower and other properties also focus on foreign clients, including Russians, it said.

Deepak Gupta, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press on Friday that the suit has proper standing because it includes plaintiffs who compete with the president's hotels and restaurants for business from foreign governments. Many people especially from the opposition side, the Democrats, are insisting that Trump should keep of his individual ventures, but the possibility of this lawsuit to succeed remain very slim.

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The attorneys general aren't the first to sue Trump over emoluments.

The Trump lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Peter Messitte, an appointee of former President Bill Clinton.

Frosh said at the news conference that Trump regularly welcomes foreign diplomats to his hotel and appears frequently at Trump establishments, "using his role as president to raise their public profile".

This is not the first time the president has been sued under the emoluments clauses.

Monday's complaint said that businesses owned by Trump diverted money from other businesses in Maryland and D.C. and that Trump's position unfairly helps his businesses such as the Trump International Hotel.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisted Trump's "interests do not violate the Emoluments Clause" and said partisan politics in behind this lawsuit. The Washington Post reported that the Kuwaitis even moved their booking to Trump's place, foregoing the Four Seasons, a hotel they had booked for years.

"The emoluments clauses are a firewall against corruption".

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee called the suit "absurd".

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